Can a Muslim girl enter into a valid marriage once she attains puberty? Supreme Court to Consider

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In the impugned order of the High Court, it was observed that merely because the petitioners had gotten married against the wishes of their family members, they could not possibly be deprived of the fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of India.

A division bench of the Supreme Court today agreed to consider whether a Muslim girl can enter into a valid marriage once she attains the age of puberty.

Justices SK Kaul and AS Oka has agreed to hear an appeal filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) challenging a recent ruling of the Punjab & Haryana High Court which held that a Muslim girl can enter a valid marriage once she attains puberty.

Granting protection to a 16 -Year-Old Muslim Girl who married a 21-year-old Muslim boy against her families' wishes, Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi of the Punjab High Court had observed that the marriage of a Muslim girl is governed by the Muslim Personal Law and the girl being over 16 years of age was competent to enter into a contract of marriage with a person of her choice.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of NCPCR, told the top court today that he required to draw the court's attention towards the violation of penal provisions under POCSO Act and other relevant laws by the impugned judgment.

"I am not against the protection granted to the girl. But stay that part of order", SG Mehta told the bench.

SG Mehta also referred to a recent decision of the Delhi High Court wherein it was held that under the Muslim Law a young girl who has attained puberty has the right to marry without parental approval and the right to live with her husband, even if she is under the age of 18.

After discussing among itself, the Top Court division bench observed that the issue before it required consideration. Accordingly, it appointed Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao as an Amicus Curiae in the matter.

The matter has now been listed on November 7, 2022 for future hearing.

It is to be noted that the Union Cabinet in December last year, cleared a proposal to bring uniformity in the marriageable age of men and women and proposed to raise the legal age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years.

Thereafter, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani introduced in the Lok Sabha the "Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021", which seeks to increase the age of marriage for women to 21 years across all religions. The Bill proposes to override any other law, custom, or practice. The bill was referred to the Standing committee.

Case Title: NCPCR vs. Gulaam Deen and others